All about pigs

Piglets nursing in a farrowing crate. Photo from the Animal Science Image Gallery.Despite their dirty reputation, pork is still one of the more popular forms of meat. Pigs were domesticated from the wild boar between 7,000 and 9,000 years ago in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean; it is also possible that boars were also independently domesticated in China.

Ironically, despite their history in the Middle East, pork is forbidden in Judaism, Islam and some orthodox Christian sects. Many Buddhists and Hindus also do not eat pork, though this is due more to their vegetarianism rather than a particular doctrine against pork.

Pigs are not picky eaters and are thus fed a wide range of foods. They are often fed surplus crops and food byproducts that humans don’t or can’t eat. Pigs are raised both by individuals and on an industrial scale, and their housing depends upon the climate of the region. In warmer locales, they can usually be outside all year long; in the cold climate of the United Kingdom, they are often housed in specialized indoor pig farms during the winter.

People rarely think of pigs being used for any other purpose other than their meat, but pigs sometimes have secondary jobs. In France, some pigs are trained to find black truffles, a delicious yet notoriously difficult delicacy to find. Some rural societies have “garbage pigs,” which scavenge the scraps of the town. This scavenging cleans up the town and allows them to later slaughter and use the pig’s meat with minimal investment in feed.  In addition, pig parts are used to make all sort of things.  Pig heart valves are even used as replacement for failing heart valves in humans.  For more information on the many products that come from pigs, click here.

Why eat meat from pigs?

What do pigs eat?


How are pigs slaughtered humanely?

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Video takes you on a tour of a modern swine farm.

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